‘Happiness, not money, a better measure’
Following Bhutan’s lead, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez wants Philippine progress measured by a Gross National Happiness (GNH) index.
In a press conference at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) main office in Quezon City yesterday, Lopez bared her plans to use the Himalayan kingdom’s GNH index as a performance indicator in 29 marginalized communities where the DENR’s “area management program” will be implemented.
“I am convinced the way we can get our country out of poverty is by taking care of the environment to the benefit of the community. We will prove that at these 29 sites. And our number-one performance indicator, the umbrella of what we are gunning for is [not money] but happiness,” Lopez said.
“In Bhutan, their goal is not GDP [Gross Domestic Product], their goal is GNH. And they have very little poverty. Zero crime, zero drugs. They have zero corruption. They take such good care of the environment. They sell hydropower to India. Their annual revenues are two billion. And they’re not even one million people. They must be doing something good. We want to try out the model in our 29 convergence sites,” Lopez said.
Lopez said she planned to set up a “National Happiness” desk at the DENR.
For this purpose, Lopez invited to the Philippines Dr. Saamdu Chetri, the executive director of Bhutan’s GNH Center, to explain the concept of GNH in a series of lectures in schools nationwide.
GNH, a term coined by Bhutan’s fourth king JigmeSingye Wangchuck, has four “pillars”: Sustainable and equitable socioeconomic development; conservation and promotion of a vibrant culture; environmental protection, and good governance.
These are further broken down into nine “domains”: Living standards; education; health; environment; community vitality; time-use; psychological well-being; good governance; and cultural resilience and promotion. The index currently measures 124 variables, from 33 indicators.
“Our GNH is based on human holistic development, not on what the country provides. It is based on human needs,” Chetri explained. Of the 33 indicators, 16 belong to the individual and family, six are the responsibility of the community, while 11 are about governance.
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